United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCCARTHY United States Magistrate Judge.
Pamela Sue Praytor, seeks judicial review of a decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
denying disability benefits. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have consented to
proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
role of the court in reviewing the decision of the
Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a
determination of whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the decision contains a
sufficient basis to determine that the Commissioner has
applied the correct legal standards. See Briggs ex rel.
Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir.
2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir.
1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28
L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither
reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 993 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even
if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health &
Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).
was 50 years old on the alleged date of onset of disability
and 51 on the date of the denial decision. Plaintiff has her
associate's degree in nursing and past work experience
includes medical case manager. Plaintiff claims to have
become disabled as of November 1, 2014 due to back pain;
inability to sit greater than 15 minutes; inability to stand
greater than 5 minutes; arthritis; depression; and
hypertension. [R. 175].
found that Plaintiff has severe impairments relating to
degenerative disc disease, obesity, and history of right foot
pain. Plaintiff's medically determinable impairment of
hypertension is non-severe. There was a lack of objective
evidence to substantiate the existence of a medically
determinable impairment of depression. [R. 23- 24]. The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567(a). Plaintiff can occasionally lift/carry 10
pounds; frequently lift/carry 10 pounds; stand/walk at least
2 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit at least 6 hours in an
8-hour workday. Plaintiff can only occasionally climb stairs,
stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. [R. 25]. The ALJ determined
that Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as
a medical case manager. Accordingly, the ALJ found Plaintiff
was not disabled. The case was thus decided at step four of
the five-step evaluative sequence for determining whether a
claimant is disabled. See Williams v. Bowen, 844
F.2d 748, 750-52 (10th Cir. 1988) (discussing five steps in
asserts that the ALJ failed to: 1) properly consider the
treating physician's opinion; and 2) properly consider
of Treating Physician
argues that the ALJ erred by failing to give sufficient
reasons for not giving substantial weight to the opinion of
Terry R. Horton, M.D. [Dkt. 15, p. 7]. A treating
physician's opinion is accorded controlling weight if it
is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical or
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
other substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 404.1527, 416.927. However, if the opinion is
deficient in either of these respects, it is not given
controlling weight. When an ALJ decides to disregard a
medical report by a claimant's physician, he must set
forth specific, legitimate reasons for his decision. An ALJ
may reject a treating physician's opinion outright only
on the basis of contradictory medical evidence and not due to
his or her own credibility judgments, speculation or lay
opinion. McGoffin v. Barnhart, 288 F.3d, 1248, 1252,
(10th Cir. 2002). In determining what weight to give a
medical opinion not given controlling weight, an ALJ must
consider (1) the length of treatment and frequency of
examination; (2) the nature and extent of the treatment
relationship; (3) the degree the opinion is supported by
medical evidence; (4) consistency between the opinion and the
record; (5) whether the physician specializes in the area on
which the opinion is given; and (6) any other factors to
support or contradict the opinion. Watkins v.
Barnhart, 350 F.3d 1297, 1301 (10th Cir. 2003).
Horton treated Plaintiff from 2012 through 2016. On May 23,
2014, Dr. Horton completed a Medical Source Opinion of
Residual Functional Capacity opining that during an
8-hour work day Plaintiff could: sit/stand/walk less than 2
hours; and frequently lift/carry 10 pounds. Findings
supporting Dr. Horton's assessment were severe
degenerative disc disease of lumbar spine; pain, and
restricted motion. Dr. Horton noted that obesity exacerbated
Plaintiff's physical condition and that she is
“unable to sit more than 15 minutes without having to
get up/reposition; cannot stand more than 5 minutes without
increase in pain in back.” [R. 241]. On June 28, 2016,
Dr. Horton completed another Medical Source Opinion of
Residual Functional Capacity which contained the same
functional limitations and obesity an exacerbating ...